November 15, 2019

Today would have been my father’s 93rd birthday. Tomorrow it will be nine months since he died on February 16, 2019. Nine months is a long time—long enough for a human baby to gestate and be ready for life outside the womb. And yet it is just a flash in a life that lasted over 92 years.

These nine months have been the hardest of my life—dealing with not only losing my father, but watching my mother decline as well. Life without my father has been just too hard for her to bear.

So today I’d like to dedicate my blog to them both, two people whose love for each other was the key to almost all of their happiness, two beautiful young people who grew to be loving parents, adoring grandparents and great-grandparents and aunt and uncle, and loyal and caring friends to people in their community and elsewhere.

Florence and John Cohen 1951

Mystery solved! The Marriage of Marcus Morreau and Alice Weinmann

A few weeks ago I wrote about the mystery of the marriage of Marcus Morreau and Alice Weinmann—when and where had they met? When and where had they married? We may never know the answer to the first set of questions, but I now have the answer to the second set. I received two days ago a certified copy of their marriage certificate.

This is not a copy of an original certificate, but rather a transcription of the facts in the original record created and certified by the General Register Office of England on September 6, 2019. Nevertheless, it is considered proof of the facts related to the marriage.

Marcus Morreau and Alice Weinmann were married on May 24, 1899, at the British Consulate in Calais, France. Marcus was 39 and a merchant and gave his residence at the time of marriage as the Hotel Terminus in Calais. Alice was 18 and living at 23 Rue St. Denis in Calais. I was not surprised to read that Marcus was a naturalized British subject, but I was surprised to read that Alice was as well, but I then learned that because her father Joseph Weinmann was a naturalized citizen, his children were as well.

The other interesting information on this record are the names of the witnesses, Philippe Weinmann (brother of Joseph Weinmann1) and Isidor Aschaffenburg. Isidor Aschaffenburg was married to Bertha/Barbara Morreau, Marcus Morreau’s sister. They were still residents of Germany in 1899. I wrote about Bertha/Barbara and Isidor here.

And so finally we have more of the answers. But there are always more questions. How had a 39 year old man living in England met an 18 year old woman living in France? Was he in fact living in Calais for some period of time at the hotel, or was he just staying there while the wedding was taking place? Unfortunately I don’t think I will be able to find answers to all those questions.


  1. Philippe Weinmann birth record, Stadt Frankfurt, Page Number: 690;691,
    Custodian: Evangelisches Kirchenbuchamt Hannover, Frankfurt, Author: Evangelische Kirche Frankfurt (Main), Ancestry.com. Rhineland, Prussia, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1533-1950 

The Family of Marcus Morreau and Alice Weinmann

Although I still don’t know exactly when Marcus Morreau married Alice Weinmann, I have narrowed it down to the years from 1896 to 1900 based on the information I found on FindMyPast. It also appears that they were married in Calais, France, perhaps at the British consulate there. I won’t know more until I see a copy of their marriage certificate.

But what I do know is that Marcus and Alice had three children, all born in England. First born was Rene Leopold Morreau on October 14, 1902, in Chorlton, Lancashire.1 Then came Cecil in the spring of 1905,2 and finally Madeline in the fall of 1908.3

My cousin Mark, Marcus and Alice’s great-grandson, shared some wonderful photographs of the Morreau family. Here are some photographs of the three beautiful children of Marcus and Alice Morreau when they were very young:

Cecil, Alice, and Rene Morreau, 1905, Courtesy of Mark Morreau

Rene and Cecil Morreau 1906, courtesy of Mark Morreau

Cecil Morreau 1907, courtesy of Mark Morreau

Cecil, Madeline, and Alice Morreau, c. 1909, courtesy of Mark Morreau

Marcus must have already been quite a successful shipping merchant because in 1911, he and Alice were living in Didsbury in South Manchester, England, with their three children, two nurses, and three servants—a cook, a waitress, and a maid.

Marcus Morreau and family, 1911 English census, Class: RG14; Piece: 23658
Enumeration District: 01, Ancestry.com. 1911 England Census

The children continued to grow, as seen in these photographs taken in about 1916:

Cecil and Rene Morreau, c. 1916. Courtesy of Mark Morreau

Rene, Madeline, and Cecil Morreau, c. 1916

Rene Morreau, Joseph Weinmann, Cecil Morreau,  May 1916

Then Marcus died at the age of 60 on March 6, 1920, in Conway, Wales.4 His children were still teenagers living at home, and his wife Alice was a widow at the age of forty. I could not locate an obituary, but did find this news article regarding the estate left behind by Marcus Morreau.

The Times, London, Greater London, England, 03 Nov 1920, Wed • Page 18

In today’s currency, that amount would be worth over £4,248,616.60, according to one inflation calculator, or over five million dollars in US currency.

Cecil was the first of Marcus and Alice’s children to marry. He married Cicely Josephine O’Flanagan in 1933 when he was 28 years old.5 (I can only imagine how much confusion there must have been with a Cecil married to a Cicely.) Cicely was born on November 7, 1907, in Manchester, the daughter of Martin O’Flanagan.6 Cecil and Cicely had three children between 1934 and 1938. According to his granddaughter Jo, Cecil was a graduate of Cambridge University where he played hockey and trained to be an architect.

Then tragically Cecil died from a burst appendix on March 2, 1939.7 He was only 34 years old and left behind three children under the age of ten and his widow Cicely, who was only 32. Just as Cecil had lost his father when he was still young, Cecil’s children lost their father when they were even younger children.

According to Cecil and Cicely’s granddaughter Jo, after Cecil’s death, Cicely moved with her three young children to Ireland to be with family friends; Jo said that Cicely and Cecil had planned the move in the event that there was a war, and so she followed through with that plan. Cicely remarried  in 1950,8 and she and her second husband, Henry “Harry” Collett, eventually returned to England, where she died on March 2, 1995.9

The other two children of Marcus and Alice lived longer lives than their brother Cecil. Rene married Beryl Scawen Blunt on January 21, 1937.10 Beryl was born November 27, 1911, to Arthur Scawen Blunt and Ada Hudson.11 Rene and Beryl had two children and lived into their seventies. Rene was 79 when he died on March 1, 1982, 12 and Beryl was 75 when she died on September 23, 1987.13

Madeline Morreau, the youngest child of Marcus and Alice, married Emanuel Phillip Nathan on June 19, 1941, in Kensington, England. 14 Emanuel was the son of Phillip Nathan of Johannesburg, South Africa, and as far as I can tell, it appears that Madeline and Phillip settled in Johannesburg after they married.

Marriage announcement for Madeline Morreau and Emanuel Nathan, First Letter of Surname: N
Ancestry.com. England, Andrews Newspaper Index Cards, 1790-1976This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors. Original data: Andrews Collection. Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies, Canterbury, Kent, England.

Alice Weinmann Morreau died in Guldford, England, in December, 1971, at the age of 91.15 Her granddaughter Annette shared with me the family story of how Alice died, as told by Alice’s companion—Alice was at the top of her stairs with Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ playing on the radio; she commented on the beauty of the music and then collapsed.

Madeline Morreau Nathan lost her husband Emanuel two years later in 1973.16 Madeline outlived the rest of her family, surviving to age 88 when she died in South Africa in 1996.17

How fortunate I am to have made these connections with my Morreau cousins and to be able to learn more about the family and to see these wonderful photographs. Thank you, Mark, Annette, and Jo.


  1. England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007 First name(s) RENE LEOPOLD Last name MORREAU Gender Male Birth day   14 Birth month  10 Birth year 1902 Age  – Death quarter  1 Death year 1982 District Bexley County Kent Volume 11 Page 0502 Country England Record set England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007 Category  Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records Subcategory Civil Deaths & Burials Collections from Great Britain, England 
  2. England & Wales Births 1837-2006, First name(s) CECIL JOSEPH, Last name MORREAU, Birth year 1905, Birth quarter 2, District Chorlton, County              Lancashire, Country England, Volume 8C, Page 718, Record set England & Wales Births 1837-2006, Category Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records, Subcategory Civil Births, Collections from Great Britain, England 
  3. Madeleine R J Morreau, Registration Year:  1908, Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec, Registration district:  Chorlton, Inferred County: Lancashire, Volume:   8c, Page: 660, FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 
  4. Name: Marcus Morreau, Death Date: 6 Mar 1920, Death Place: Manchester, England, Probate Date: 29 Oct 1920, Probate Registry: London, England, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  5. First name(s) CECIL J, Last name MORREAU, Marriage quarter 3, Marriage year 1933, Spouse’s last name O’flanagan, District Manchester South, County Lancashire
    Country England, Volume 8D, Volume as transcribed 8D, Page number 648, Record set England & Wales Marriages 1837-2005, Category Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records, Subcategory Civil Marriage & Divorce, Collections from Great Britain, England 
  6. Cicely Josephine Collett, Death Age: 87, Birth Date: 7 Nov 1907, Registration Date: Apr 1995, Registration district: Ipswich, Inferred County: Suffolk, Register Number: A14B, District and Subdistrict: 7471A, Entry Number: 257, General Register Office; United Kingdom, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  7. Name: Cecil Joseph Morreau, Death Date: 2 Mar 1939, Death Place: Guildford, Surrey, England, Probate Date: 7 Jun 1939, Probate Registry: London, England, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995 
  8.  Name: Cicely J Morreau, Registration Date: Oct 1950,Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec, Registration district: Marylebone, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Henry B Collett, Volume Number: 5d, Page Number: 605, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5d; Page: 605, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  9.  Name: Cicely Josephine Collett, Death Age: 87, Birth Date: 7 Nov 1907, Registration Date: Apr 1995, Registration district: Ipswich, Inferred County: Suffolk
    Register Number: A14B, District and Subdistrict: 7471A, Entry Number: 257,
    General Register Office; United Kingdom, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  10.  Name: Rene L Morreau, Registration Date: Jan 1937, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration district: Westminster, Inferred County: Middlesex, Spouse: Beryl S Blunt, Volume Number: 1a, Page Number: 870, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 870, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  11. First name(s) BERYL S Last name BLUNT Birth year 1911 Birth quarter 4 Registration month – Mother’s maiden name Hudson District Canterbury County Kent Country England Volume 2A Page 1734 Record set England & Wales Births 1837-2006 Category Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records Subcategory Civil Births Collections from Great Britain, England 
  12.  Rene Leopold Morreau, Death Age: 79, Birth Date: 14 Oct 1902, Registration Date: Jan 1982, Registration Quarter: Jan-Feb-Mar, Registration district: Bexley
    Inferred County: Greater London, Volume: 11, Page: 0502, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 11; Page: 0502, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  13. Name: Beryl Scawen Morreau, Death Age: 75, Birth Date: 27 Nov 1911
    Registration Date: Sep 1987, Registration district: Lambeth, Inferred County: Greater London, Volume: 14, Page: 317, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 14; Page: 317, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  14.  Name: Madeleine R J Morreau, Registration Date: Apr 1941, Registration Quarter: Apr-May-Jun, Registration district: Kensington, Inferred County: London
    Spouse: Emanuel P Nathan, Volume Number: 1a, Page Number: 430, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 1a; Page: 430, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  15. Alice Frederique Morreau, Death Age: 91, Birth Date: 15 Jun 1880, Registration Quarter: Oct-Nov-Dec, Registration district: Surrey South Western Inferred County: Surrey, Volume: 5g, Page: 1177. General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5g; Page: 1177, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 
  16. Emanuel Philip Nathan, Death Year: 1973, Death Country: South Africa
    Title: Transvaal Estates Death Index (Master of the Supreme Court, Pretoria)
    Source: National Archives, Pretoria, Reference Number: 11990/73, Ancestry.com. Transvaal Province, South Africa, Estates Death Notice Index, 1855-1976 
  17. Source: Mark Morreau, Madeline’s great-nephew. 

A Brickwall: When and Where did Alice Weinmann Marry Marcus Morreau?

As seen in my prior post, my cousin Marcus Morreau left his home in Worrstadt, Germany, as a young man and was living and working as a merchant in Withington, England by 1881, as seen on the 1881 census.

Marcus Morreau, 1881 England census, Class: RG11; Piece: 3892; Folio: 79; Page: 37; GSU roll: 1341930, Enumeration District: 12a, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1881 England Census

By 1901, he was a shipping merchant and married and living with his wife Alice in Didsbury, England, as seen on the 1901 English census:

Marcus and Alice Morreau, “England and Wales Census, 1901,” database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X9GW-G8T : 21 May 2019), Marcus Morreau, Didsbury, Lancashire, England, United Kingdom; from “1901 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast(http://www.findmypast.com : n.d.); citing Didsbury subdistrict, PRO RG 13, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.

Thus, sometime between 1881 and 1901, Marcus married  a woman named Alice. I was curious about their marriage, especially since Alice was 21 years younger than Marcus and French-born, as indicated on the census record.  Where did they meet? When and where did they marry?

I knew from my cousin Mark, the great-grandson of Marcus and Alice, that Alice was the child of Joseph Weinmann and Helene Rothschild, both of whom were German-born, but were living in Calais, France, when Alice was born there on June 15, 1880. Sherri of the Tracing the Tribe group on Facebook generously offered to help me locate Alice’s birth record from Calais:

Alice Weinmann, birth record, Calais, France, located on the online archives for Calais at http://archivesenligne.pasdecalais.fr/cg62v2/registre.php

The records from Calais also show that Joseph and Helen Weinmann’s youngest child, Jacques, was born in 1895, in Calais,1 so the Weinmanns were living in Calais from at least 1880  when Alice, their first-born child, was born until at least 1895 when Jacques was born.

Mark shared these two wonderful photographs of his great-grandmother Alice as a young girl and as a young woman:

Alice Weinmann with her younger sister Estelle, 1890. Courtesy of Mark Morreau

Alice Weinmann, 1898. Courtesy of Mark Morreau

So how did Marcus, a German immigrant living in England since at least 1881, meet a much younger woman who was born in France in 1880 and living in France until at least 1895?

One theory was that Marcus was introduced to Alice through his work with Edward Wihl. Mark found a directory for Manchester in the 1880s showing that Marcus was working for Edward Wihl & Company, and I found one from 1895 showing that he was still working for Edward Wihl & Company.

Manchester Directory, early 1880s, courtesy of Mark Morreau

1895 Slater’s Manchester & Salford Directory (Pt 1); Publisher: Slater’s Directory Ltd (Manchester) and Kelly & Co. (London), Ancestry.com. UK, City and County Directories, 1766 – 1946

Alice’s sister Estelle was married to Edward Wihl’s nephew Joseph Wihl,2 and we postulated that Estelle Weinmann and Joseph Wihl introduced Alice and Marcus. But that theory did not hold up because Estelle married Joseph Wihl in 1906, at least five years after Alice and Marcus were married.  It would seem more likely that Alice introduced Estelle to Joseph Wihl than Estelle introducing Alice to Marcus.

Mark was quite certain that Alice and Marcus had married in Calais, but despite help from numerous members of the French SIG on JewishGen and from Sherri on Facebook, I could not locate a marriage record for Marcus and Alice in Calais. One of the members of the French SIG group also looked at Alice’s birth record and opined that if in fact Alice had later married in Calais, there would have been a notation on her birth record to that effect.  There was, in fact, no such notation.

Then I wondered if they had married in England, not France. What if the Weinmanns had left Calais after Jacques was born in 1895 and moved to Manchester, facilitating the meeting of Alice and Marcus and their marriage in England?

So I searched  to see if the Weinmanns had moved to England before Alice and Marcus married, and I learned that Alice’s father Joseph Weinmann had lived in England, but before Alice’s birth in 1880.

Records show that in 1870, Joseph Weinmann became a naturalized citizen of the United Kingdom, then residing in Ireland, meaning that he had lived in the UK for at least five of the preceding eight years. In 1871, Joseph Weinmann, born in Frankfurt, Germany, was working as a commercial lace clerk and living in Nottingham, England.3

Joseph Weinmann UK naturalization, 1870, The National Archives; Kew, Surrey, England; Duplicate Certificates of Naturalisation, Declarations of British Nationality, and Declarations of Alienage; Class: HO 334; Piece: 1, Piece 001: Certificate Numbers A1 – A496
Ancestry.com. UK, Naturalisation Certificates and Declarations, 1870-1916

This photograph is labeled by the family as “Joseph Weinmann, Nottingham, c.1868, age 20.”

Joseph Weinmann, c. 1868, Nottingham, England. Courtesy of Mark Morreau

When I saw that, I recalled something else that Mark had mentioned: that both the Wihl family and Joseph Weinmann were somehow connected to the lace trade in Nottingham. Mark wondered whether Marcus also had at some point been in Nottingham. All of that made some sense as a theory—that Marcus met Joseph Weinman in the 1870s in Nottingham before Joseph moved to Calais and Marcus moved to Manchester.

But I had and have no proof. In fact, I have no English records for Joseph Weinmann after the 1871 England Census until a 1909 directory showing him living in Manchester and working for Morreau, Spiegelberg & Company.4

When I first saw the two photographs below, I thought these might be wedding portraits. They were both taken in Manchester, and the one of Alice is dated 1901. But since they were taken by different photographers in Manchester, they were probably not wedding portraits.

Alice Weinmann Morreau, 1901, Manchester. Courtesy of Mark Morreau

Marcus Morreau, undated, Manchester. Courtesy of Mark Morreau

I was about to give up on ever finding a marriage record for Marcus and Alice when I decided to search FindMyPast, the genealogy website that is best for research in Great Britain. There were several records for Marcus Morreau on the site, but the one that most interested me was from a database called “British Armed Forces and Overseas Banns and Marriages.” The entry for Marcus was described as “Marcus Morreau 1896-1900 Calais France MCON Gro Consular Marriages (1849-1965)(emphasis added).”  But I could not see the actual document or the transcription without subscribing to FindMyPast.

I debated whether or not to spend the money (about $15) for a one month subscription. Finally my curiosity got the better of me, so I took out my credit card and subscribed. I was excited to click on the icon to see the record, but this is all it showed:

Marcus Morreau in marriage register

The transcription didn’t help much either. It said:

Gro Consular Marriages (1849-1965)
First name(s) Marcus
Last name Morreau
Sex Male
Marriage year 1896-1900

 

MarriageFinder ™

Marcus Morreau married one of these people

Alice Frederique Weinmann, Agnes Mary Matthews

Marriage place Calais
Place type Place
Country France
Type Consular/Overseas
Source Gro Consular Marriages (1849-1965)
Records year range 1896-1900
Archive reference MCON
Volume 10
Page 409
Line number 20
Archive
General Register Office
Record set British Armed Forces And Overseas Banns And Marriages
Category Birth, Marriage & Death (Parish Registers)
Subcategory Civil Marriage & Divorce
Collections from Great Britain, UK None

There was no wedding date date provided, just the range of 1896-1900. But it certainly appears that Marcus and Alice were indeed married in Calais as Mark had believed. But when? And how did they meet if they were living in different countries and 21 years apart in age?

It seems more and more likely that somehow there was a prior connection between Marcus and his father-in-law-to-be, Joseph Weinmann, and perhaps an ongoing business connection.

The next step is to try and get the actual marriage record. I’ve sent away to the GRO in England with the hope that they will find it and that it will at least provide a wedding date. Now I wait.

UPDATE: Mystery solved! The GRO sent the record, and the answers are here.


  1. Jacques Weinmann birth record, found at http://archivesenligne.pasdecalais.fr/cg62v2/registre.php 
  2. Marriage of Joseph Wihl and Estelle Weinmann,Registration Year: 1906
    Registration Quarter: Jul-Aug-Sep, Registration district: Prestwich  Inferred County: Lancashire, Volume: 8d, Page: 818, Records on Page: FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915 
  3. Joseph Weinmann, 1871 England Census, The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1871 England Census; Class: RG10; Piece: 3530; Folio: 28; Page: 13; GSU roll: 839753, Enumeration District: 2, Ancestry.com. 1871 England Census 
  4. 1909 Slater’s Manchester, Salford & Suburban Directory (Pt 2); Publisher: Slater’s Directory Ltd (Manchester) and Kelly’s Directories Ltd (London), Ancestry.com. UK, City and County Directories, 1766 – 1946 

A Morreau Family Update: In Memory of Patrick Morreau 1934-2019

When we were in London, I was very fortunate to meet two of my Seligmann cousins, Annette Morreau, my fourth cousin, once removed, and Mark Morreau, my fifth cousin; I wrote about our meeting here. Since then, Mark and I have stayed in touch and shared some of our research into our shared family.

Before I delve into what I’ve learned from Mark, let me first explain how we are connected. Mark and I are both descended from our four-times great-grandparents Jacob Seligmann and Martha Mayer, Mark through their daughter Caroline, me through their son Moritz, my third great-grandfather.

Caroline Seligmann married Moses Morreau on October 8, 1830 in Worrstadt, Germany:

Marriage record of Caroline Seligmann and Moses Morreau October 8, 1930
Worrstadt Marriage Record, 1830-10

P. 2 of Marriage record of Caroline Seligmann and Moses Morreau

They had two children, Levi (1831) and Klara (1838), about whom I wrote here. Levi Morreau married Emilia Levi and had five children, including Markus, who was born in Worrstadt on August 27, 1859:

Markus Morreau birth record, August 27, 1859
Worrstadt birth records, 1859-36

Here is a photograph of Emilia Levi Morreau, the mother of Markus Morreau:

Emilia Levi Morreau, courtesy of Mark Morreau

Markus married Alice Weinmann, and they had three children all born in England. Their first child Cecil, Mark’s grandfather, was born in April, 1905.1 Cecil married Cicely Josephine O’Flanagan in 1933 in Manchester, England,2 and they had three children, including Mark’s father Patrick, born in 1934.3

When I met Mark, his father Patrick was scheduled for surgery within a few weeks after our meeting on June 1, 2019. Patrick made it through the surgery, but then unexpectedly died not long afterwards on June 30, 2019. He was 85. I was heartbroken for Mark and his family and very sad that I had missed the opportunity to meet Patrick myself, especially after Mark shared some of his stories with me. I am grateful, however, to have met Mark and also our cousin Annette, and very glad that Mark was able to share with Patrick some of what we had discussed and to ask a few more questions about the family history.

So in memory of and in honor of Patrick Morreau, let me tell some of that history and those stories.

I will start with Mark’s great-grandfather Markus Morreau. As mentioned above, Markus was one of five children of Levi and Emilia (Levi) Morreau. He had four younger siblings: Albert, Adolf (who died as a child), Bertha, and Alice. I’ve written about them all here and here. In fact, my discovery of the Morreau cousins really started when my cousin Shyanne Morreau found my blog and we together put the various pieces together. Shyanne is descended from Albert Morreau, who left Germany for the United States in 1883 when he was 22 and settled in Cleveland. Albert’s older brother Markus also left Germany as a young man and was living in Withington, a suburb of Manchester, England in 1881; by then he had adopted the more English spelling of his name, Marcus. 4

Here is a photograph of Marcus taken in 1880 when he was 21. It appears it was taken in Frankfurt, either before he emigrated to England or during a visit back to Germany:

Marcus Morreau, aged 21. Courtesy of Mark Morreau

I don’t have a photograph of Albert as a young man, but this photo from his 1915 passport with his wife Leonora shows the family resemblance:

“United States Passport Applications, 1795-1925,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVJP-423K : 4 September 2015), Albert Morreau, 1915; citing Passport Application, Ohio, United States, source certificate #49162, Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925, 234, NARA microfilm publications M1490 and M1372 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,514,173.

Marcus was living in Manchester when he became a naturalized British citizen in 1892.

UK Naturalization Certificate for Marcus Morreau
The National Archives; Kew, Surrey, England; Duplicate Certificates of Naturalisation, Declarations of British Nationality, and Declarations of Alienage; Class: HO 334; Piece: 19

Two of the questions that Mark and I had were why Marcus and Albert left Germany in the 1870s and 1880s and why one went to England and the other to America.  As for the first part of that question, the answer seems answered in part by what was happening in Germany in the 1870s and 1880s. According to several sources, Germany was substantially affected by the worldwide depression that began in 1873. Britannica.com reports that:

The prices for agricultural and industrial goods fell precipitously; for six successive years the net national product declined. A sharp decline in profits and investment opportunities persisted until the mid-1890s. About 20 percent of the recently founded corporations went bankrupt.

In agriculture, the deeply indebted Junker elite now faced severe competition as surplus American and Russian grain flooded the German market. Among the more immediate consequences of the crash was a burst of emigration from the depressed provinces of rural Prussia. During the 1870s some 600,000 people departed for North and South America; this number more than doubled in the 1880s.

Lynn Abrams, a scholar writing about this same period, noted that one of the other consequences of the depression of 1873 was an increase in anti-Semitism:5

The Depression, which did not recede until 1879, had profound consequences. The period beginning in 1873 saw the organization of economic interest groups, nationalism of a rather chauvinistic nature, militarism and modern anti-semitism.The Depression caused the landed and industrial interests to mobilize behind the policy of protective tariffs in order to retain their economic and political base. Thus, they succeeded in maintaining their power and the political status quo.

Ironically, the unification of Germany under Bismarck in 1871 led to some increased rights for Jews, but also increased anti-Semitism, as the Center for Israel Education described on its website:

In July 1869, Prussian King Wilhelm I promulgated the North German Confederation Constitution, which gave Jews civil and political rights in twenty-two German states.  This Constitution was adopted by the new German empire upon its establishment on April 14, 1871.  On April 22, 1871, the Jews in all of Germany were finally given emancipation when the Constitution was extended to Bavaria. 

The process of Jewish emancipation led to many changes in both Jewish and non-Jewish society.  Some Jews continued religious identification with non-Orthodox Judaism, seeking to remain Jewish but more like their Christian peers; some converted to Christianity because the Emancipation of 1871 still prevented Jews from gaining access to certain high profile social positions; others simply assimilated.  Emancipation also led to new and more virulent forms of anti-Semitism, a term that was coined in 1879 in a pamphlet by Wilhelm Marr. Marr became the father of virulent racial anti-Semitism, singling out  Jews as inferior because of their racial impurity.

Another website, Jewish History Online, further elaborated on the increased anti-Semitism that occurred in the 1870s and thereafter:

With the onset of the economic crisis of the early 1870s known as “Gründerkrach”, the atmosphere in the newly founded German Kaiserreich started to change. Reich Chancellor Bismarck reacted with a protectionist economic policy and changed his political course to join the conservative camp. As supporters of liberalism and Social Democracy, the Jews now found themselves on the side of the political enemy. They were accused of being responsible for the economic crisis and the ever more pressing “social question.”

There were thus multiple reasons why Marcus and Albert Morreau would have left Germany during this time period—to seek better economic opportunities and to escape anti-Semitism.

As for why one went to England and the other America, we can only speculate. Perhaps they were hedging their bets as to which country would give them more opportunities. Maybe they didn’t get along and wanted to put an ocean between them.  Or maybe they each just found a specific job opportunity that led them to settle in two different countries.

More to come…

 


  1. Inferred County: Lancashire, Volume: 8c, Page: 718, Source Information
    FreeBMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 
  2.  Inferred County: Lancashire, Spouse: O’flanagan, Volume Number: 8d
    Page Number: 648, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 8d; Page: 648,
    Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 
  3.  Registration district: Watford, Inferred County: Hertfordshire, Mother’s Maiden Name: O’Flanagan, Volume Number: 3a, Page Number: 1485, General Register Office; United Kingdom; Reference: Volume 3a, Page 1485, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007 
  4. Marcus Morreau, 1881 England Census, Class: RG11; Piece: 3892; Folio: 79; Page: 37; GSU roll: 1341930, Enumeration District: 12a, Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 
  5. Lynn Abrams, Bismarck and The German Empire 1871-1918 ( Routledge, 1995), found at https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3c20/c71ec7760438fd5651738e40dea8a81a8c19.pdf 

How the Nazis Treated Children of Mixed Marriages, Part II: Christine Seligmann

My last post told the tragic story of Emil-Jacob Seligmann, Jr., the great-grandson of my three-times great-grandfather Moritz Seligmann. This post will tell the story of his sister, Christine, known by the family as Christel. Emil, Jr. and Christel were the children of Emil Seligmann, Sr., who was Jewish, and Anna Maria Angelika Illian, who was Catholic, and they were raised as Catholics. But, as we saw in the prior post, Nazis treated those who had two Jewish grandparents as Mischlings in the First Degree. Although they were not thus identified as wholly Jewish, they were nevertheless not Aryan either and, as we saw with Emil, often persecuted. Emil was sent to Buchenwald in August 1944 and died there six months later on February 14, 1945, from poor health and a heart attack.

Christel was not sent to a concentration camp, but she faced persecution as well. In going through various papers that were found in Christel’s apartment after she died in 1982, my cousin Wolfgang located documents that revealed that Christel had applied for reparations from the German government for the harm and losses she suffered during the Nazi era. Those documents (which he has shared with me) reveal what Christel experienced and endured at the hands of the Nazis. The documents are all in German, but with a lot of help from Wolfgang and my elementary understanding of German, I have been able to piece together Christel’s story. You can see the documents I received here: Christine Seligmann dox

The first document was written by Christel on January 3, 1947, outlining her life in Wiesbaden before and during the Nazi era and World War II. She wrote that she was born on July 30, 1903 in Erbach, Germany. Her parents were quite wealthy, so Christel did not need to work. But in 1933 she became a certified baby nurse and began working for mostly Jewish families in that capacity. She was out of work due to poor health (rheumatism) from 1938 to 1942, but in 1942 returned to work for various families.

After losing both of her parents in 1942, Christel stopped working as a baby nurse and instead made a living by renting rooms in her family home. But in August 1944, her situation became much worse. Her brother Emil was arrested and sent to Buchenwald, where he died six months later.

Wolfgang found among Christel’s papers two cards that she received from her brother Emil while he was at Buchenwald. Wolfgang translated and summarized these cards for me.

The first card is dated September 10, 1944. At the top of the page are pre-printed instructions regarding written communications to and from prisoners. Prisoners were allowed to send and receive just two letters a month. The letters had to be written clearly. The rules also state that prisoners were allowed to receive food.

In the body of his message, Emil informed Christel that he was living at Buchenwald and that he was doing well, but he made several requests that he considered urgent. He asked her to send him money (30 Reichsmarken) and a long list of food items: marmalade, canned blackberries and raspberries, sugar, salt, cigarettes, and some cutlery. He also asked for something to treat fleas. He thanked her several times.

His second letter sounded more desperate. It was written in December, 1944, and it is obvious that the conditions and weather had become worse since his first card two months earlier. We can’t tell whether the siblings had exchanged other letters between September and December, but from the content of Emil’s December letter, we know that Christel had at least sent him one package. He wrote that he was happy to have received the package from her because he had been very worried and was glad to know that she was alive. He asked her to write him a letter—so perhaps she had not written to him, just sent the package.

He said that everything in that package was perfect, but that he now needed more money (50 Reichsmarken) and some winter clothing—gloves, earflaps (like ear muffs, I assume), and a winter jacket. He also asked for towels, handkerchiefs, a pen, a spoon, salt, cigarettes, glasses, and marmalade. Emil acknowledged that Christel might be too busy with work to get the items to him quickly and said she should ask the other women in her house for help. He closed by wishing her a good Christmas and sending her kisses.

We don’t know whether Emil heard from Christel again or whether she heard from him. He died less than two months after Christmas on February 14, 1945.

Meanwhile, Christel was having her own problems with the Nazis.  On the same day that Emil was arrested in August, 1944, the Gestapo raided their family’s apartment and forced her to move out on one day’s notice at great cost and with no help. They told her that if her furniture was not removed by the next morning, she would find it on the street. She was able to salvage some, but not all, of her belongings.

From October 1944 until December 1944, she was able to work as a nanny for a Christian woman, but then the Gestapo forced her to take a job in a cardboard factory. She found this work very difficult, and the long walk back and forth every day made matters even worse. Her feet became frostbitten and she developed bladder problems, but despite consulting three different doctors, she was unable to get any of them to give her a medical note to excuse her from work.

Once the war ended and the US army occupied Wiesbaden, Christel’s home was returned to her, but then was soon taken back by the US army to use as living quarters for American soldiers. Christel had just one room to live in. Nine months later her home was returned to her.

Christel filed a claim for reparations from the German government in November, 1953, for the loss of income and value she suffered by being forced from her home by the Gestapo, for the loss of her profession, for the damage to her health, and for the insults and humiliation she endured. She also claimed that a possible marriage was thwarted by the laws imposed by the Nazis. Wolfgang located in Christel’s papers a five-page petition filed by her attorney, Georg Marx, detailing her claims. Unfortunately, the copy I received is a bit too blurry (making it even more difficult to translate the German), but Wolfgang told me that it reiterates much of what Christel herself wrote in 1947 but with more details about her medical ailments.

According to Wolfgang, Christel did receive some money for reparations, but not very much.  She continued to live in her apartment in Wiesbaden for the rest of her life. When she died in 1982, Wolfgang and his father and uncle cleaned out the apartment. Christel was a bit of a hoarder, and there were many, many papers that were simply thrown away, papers that today might tell more of her story and that of her family.

Fortunately, however, Wolfgang’s uncle Herbert saved the “magic suitcase” that was in Christel’s apartment and that has become so critical to the family research that Wolfgang and his mother have done and have shared with me.

 

 

How the Nazis Treated Children of Mixed Marriages, Part I: Emil Seligmann

Wolfgang’s second find on the newly released Arolsen Archives website was about our cousin Emil Jacob Seligmann, Jr., the son of Emil Jacob Seligmann, Sr., and Anna Maria Angelika Illian. His father Emil, Sr., was the son of Caroline Seligmann and Siegfried Seligmann and the grandson of Moritz Seligmann and Eva Schoenfeld. And since Emil Sr.’s father Siegfried was the son of Moritz’s sister Martha, Emil Sr., was also her grandson. Thus, Emil, Sr., was the great-grandson of Jacob Seligmann and Martha Mayer through two of their children.

Extended Pedigree Chart for Emil Seligmann

Anyway, I digress. Emil, Sr., was born on December 23, 1863, in Mainz, Germany.

Emil Jacob Seligmann Sr birth record, Stadtarchiv Mainz; Mainz, Deutschland; Zivilstandsregister, 1798-1875; Signatur: 50 / 66
Ancestry.com. Mainz, Germany, Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1798-1875

He married Anna Maria Angelika Illian on February 10, 1907, in Erbach, Germany. Their marriage record indicates that Anna Maria was Catholic, so theirs was an interfaith marriage.

Emil Jacob Seligmann Sr Marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 919; Laufende Nummer: 1109, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Emil, Sr., and Anna Maria had two children—Emil Jacob, Jr. and Christina. From these names, we can see that Emil, Sr., was not keeping to Jewish naming traditions, having a son who shared his name and a daughter named Christina and known as Christel.

One other observation: Emil Jacob, Jr., was born on May 27, 1901, almost six years before the date on his parents’ marriage record. 1 I wonder whether there were legal or other obstacles that prevented Emil, Sr., and Anna Maria from marrying earlier.

According to Emil, Sr.’s death certificate, he died from arteriosclerosis on August 9, 1942, at home in Wiesbaden. He was 78 years old. His wife Anna Maria had predeceased him on January 31, 1942, in Wiesbaden; she was 71. She died from heart disease.2

Emil Jacob Seligmann, Sr death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 925; Laufende Nummer: 2934, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

The Arolsen Archives had this registration card for Emil, Sr., dated sometime after June 30, 1941. I know this is pure speculation, but I do have to wonder whether the stress of the Nazi era contributed to their deaths.

Card “Reichsvereinigung der Juden”, Emil I. SELIGMANN, 1.2.4.1 / 12673844, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

The fate of their son Emil, Jr., sheds some light on that, especially from the papers that Wolfgang located at the Arolsen Archives. There is an entire folder for Emil, Jr., of forms connected to his time at Buchenwald, and those forms reveal a great deal not only about Emil but also about the Nazi mindset. I will only post a few of the forms in the folder—those that reveal the most important information about Emil.

First is his Haeftlings-Personal-Karte or his personal prisoner’s card, which includes information about his birth, his parents, his physical characteristics, as well as other matters. Note that it asks for his religion, and he responded “R.K.,” or Roman Catholic. That is, Emil was imprisoned at Buchenwald even though his mother was Catholic and he identified as Catholic.

Prisoner Registration Card Concentration Camp Buchenwald, Emil SELIGMANN, 1.1.5.3 / 7088569, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

Note also at the top that it says “Mischl. 1 Gr.”, or Mischling First Degree. “Mischling” means hybrid in German, and it was the way Nazis labeled those who were from a mixed background and not 100% Jewish in their ancestry. A Mischling First Degree meant someone who had two Jewish grandparents, as Emil, Jr. did. The First Supplementary Decree of November 14, 1935 to the Nuremberg Laws on Citizenship and Race first promulgated on September 15, 1935, established standards for defining who was a Jew for Nazi purposes and included this provision:

ARTICLE 5

(1)  A Jew is an individual who is descended from at least three grandparents who were, racially, full Jews…

(2)  A Jew is also an individual who is descended from two full-Jewish grandparents if:

(a)  he was a member of the Jewish religious community when this law was issued, or joined the community later;

(b)  when the law was issued, he was married to a person who was a Jew, or was subsequently married to a Jew;

(c)  he is the issue from a marriage with a Jew, in the sense of Section I, which was contracted after the coming into effect of the Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor of September 15, 1935;

(d)  he is the issue of an extramarital relationship with a Jew, in the sense of Section I, and was born out of wedlock after July 31, 1936.

There are many other sources shedding light on the definition of Mischling and the treatment thereof by the Nazis including those linked to here and here and here.

Emil did not fall into any of those disqualifying categories so was classified as a Mischling, First Degree. But what did that mean for Emil?

Well, as you can see from his card, he did not escape persecution. He was sent to Buchenwald by the Gestapo through Frankfurt, in 1944. The card says “eingewiesen am” August 21, 1944, and “eingewiesen am” translates as “instructed on,” but I assume in this context it means something more threatening than instruction. The “grund” or reason given for this action was that Emil was a “Polit. Mischl. 1 Gr,” meaning that he was arrested for political activity, not just for being a Mischling, First Degree.

Another card in the file shows that he was “eingeliefert” or admitted to Buchewald on August 21, 1944. 3   On that card it shows what Emil brought with him: a cap, one pair of cloth pants, a shirt, a skirt (?), and two pairs of shoes—laced shoes and clogs.

Personal effects card Concentration Camp Buchenwald, Emil SELIGMANN, 1.1.5.3 / 7088572, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

What the following form in the folder revealed makes the fact of Emil’s arrest and imprisonment even surprising. This is the prisoner registration form used at Buchenwald and the other Nazi concentration camps. It repeats most of the personal information Emil provided on the prisoner’s card above, but note the line that says “Kriegsdienstzeit.” That translates as military service time, and Emil reported that he had served in the infantry from 1940-1941. That is, Emil had been a soldier in the German army for two years of World War II. And now he was imprisoned at Buchenwald.

Prisoner Registration Form Concentration Camp Buchenwald, Emil SELIGMANN, 1.1.5.3 / 7088574, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

Tragically, Emil did not survive his time at Buchenwald. Less than six months after his initial imprisonment he died from a heart attack on February 14, 1945. He was 43 years old.

ITS reference card, Emil SELIGMANN, 1.1.5.3 / 7088580, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

According to this card, which Wolfgang translated for me, Emil had been admitted to the infirmary the day before for diarrhea. Emil must have been quite ill, likely from mistreatment and poor nutrition, to have died so young.

Extract from the Book of deceased of the prisoners’ infirmary ward of Concentration Camp Buchenwald, 1.1.5.1 / 5348508, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

Just a few months later, Germany was defeated by the Allies, and the concentration camps were liberated. Emil could have lived a full life instead of having it cut short by the Nazis.

My next post will tell the story of Emil’s sister, Christine.

 

 

 


  1.   Emil’s birth date appears on several records, although I do not have an actual birth record. For example, it appears on his records from his time at Buchenwald, see at National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Langenstein-Zwieberge Concentration Camp Inmate Cards, April 1944 – April 1945; Publication Number: M2121; Roll Number: 1, Ancestry.com. Germany, Langenstein-Zwieberge Concentration Camp Inmate Cards, 1944-1945. It also appears on the forms from Arolsen seen below. According to Wolfgang, Christel was born on July 30, 1903, so also before her parents’ marriage. Christel was the first owner of the “magic suitcase” that helped Wolfgang, his mother, and me learn so much about our shared family. More on Christel and her life to come in my next post. 
  2. Anna Maria Illian Seligmann death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 925; Laufende Nummer: 2931, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  3. A different card in the file says he was “eingeliefert” or admitted to Buchenwald on December 29, 1944. Had he been released and then re-arrested a few months later? Personal effects card Concentration Camp Buchenwald, Emil SELIGMANN, 1.1.5.3 / 7088571, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives 

Martha Oppenheimer Floersheimer: A Mother in Search of Her Children

For any of you who have done or are doing research about relatives who were persecuted or killed in the Holocaust, you may want to check out the newly organized database released by the Arolsen Archives in May, 2019. In the press release they issued on May 21, 2019, they wrote:

People from all over the world can now conduct research online to discover thefates of victims of National Socialist persecution: the Arolsen Archives havepublished a new online archive in partnership with the World HolocaustRemembrance Center, Yad Vashem (https://collections.arolsen-archives.org/en/). The database contains a comprehensive collection of documents from concentration camps, including prisoner cards and death notices. The more than 13 million documents featuring information on over 2.2 million people persecuted by the Nazi Regime are part of the UNESCO’s World Documentary Heritage and are a key focus of the collection of the Arolsen Archives. This database is the first of several large collections scheduled to go online in future. 

I first learned of this new resource from my cousin Wolfgang Seligmann, who emailed me on May 28, 2019, about new discoveries he’d made by searching the newly updated Arolsen Archives.

This post will be about the first—documents he found about Martha Oppenheimer Floersheimer, the daughter of Pauline Seligmann and Maier Oppenheimer and granddaughter of Moritz Seligmann, my three-times great-grandfather. Pauline was the younger sister of my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligman and Wolfgang’s great-grandfather August Seligmann. So Martha was Wolfgang’s first cousin, twice removed, and my first cousin, three times removed.

Although I have written about Martha before, since I last wrote about her, additional documents have become available on Ancestry that provide more details of her life before the Holocaust. Martha was born on March 1, 1876, in Offenbach, Germany. She married Heinrich Floersheimer on September 18, 1902, in Butzbach, Germany. Together they had two children: Trude, born January 24, 1904, in Gross-Gerau, Germany,1 and Paul, born August 9, 1906, in Wiesbaden, Germany.2  Martha and Heinrich were divorced in 1913.

Martha Oppenheimer birth record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 918; Laufende Nummer: 323, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Births, 1851-1901

Martha Oppenheimer marriage and divorce record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 924; Laufende Nummer: 323, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

From Yad Vashem and other family sources, I’d earlier learned that both Trude and Paul were murdered during the Holocaust. Trude was deported from Frankfurt on June 11, 1942, and sent to the Sobibor concentration camp where she was murdered; she was 38.3 Paul was deported on June 10, 1942, to the concentration camp at Majdanek, Poland, and was murdered there; he was 35.4 As for their mother Martha, she was sent to Thereisenstadt and somehow survived.

What Wolfgang found at the Arolsen Archives website were forms that Martha completed after she was liberated from Thereisenstadt in 1945. These were forms used by the International Refugee Organization to help displaced persons obtain assistance after the war. The first page in Martha’s file is a form she submitted to the International Tracing Service; it’s heartbreaking to read this because it reveals that at the time Martha filled out this form, she still had hope that her two children were still alive.

CM/1 files from Germany for the family FLÖRSHEIMER, envelope F-3042, 3.2.1.1 / 79088827, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

The second form is a questionnaire that the US Army asked displaced persons to complete. One question was, “Fuehren Sie de Namen irgendwelcher anderer naechster Familienangehoeriger auf, die sich zur Zeit in Deutschland aufhalten.“ In English—List the names of any other family members currently in Germany—and again, Martha listed her two children.  Since the form was created on June 1, 1946, this indicates that Martha still believed her children could be alive a year after she was released from Thereisenstadt.

CM/1 files from Germany for the family FLÖRSHEIMER, envelope F-3042, 3.2.1.1 / 79088828, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

The next two pages of that questionnaire ask numerous questions about Martha’s background. Of most interest here are two responses. One question asks whether she wants to return home, and she responded yes. Another question asked whether she had ever been persecuted for her race, religion, or political views, and she answered yes to race and religion; asked to describe how she was persecuted, Martha wrote that she was sent to Thereisenstadt concentration camp from September 2, 1942 until July 8, 1945.

CM/1 files from Germany for the family FLÖRSHEIMER, envelope F-3042, 3.2.1.1 / 79088828, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

In February 1948, Martha filled out a third form, this one a Request for Assistance. On this form Martha described herself as a widow and wrote that she had been living back in Wiesbaden since July 1945.

CM/1 files from Germany for the family FLÖRSHEIMER, envelope F-3042, 3.2.1.1 / 79088829, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

CM/1 files from Germany for the family FLÖRSHEIMER, envelope F-3042, 3.2.1.1 / 79088829, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

CM/1 files from Germany for the family FLÖRSHEIMER, envelope F-3042, 3.2.1.1 / 7908889, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

The saddest part of this form is the last page where Martha was asked whether she wanted to remain in Germany, to which she answered yes, and then whether she had any relatives living in Germany. Now her answer was no. By this time she must have learned that her children had been murdered.

I don’t have any other records for Martha after this point, but what I know from my cousin Angelika Oppenheimer and the Seligmann family tree is that Martha continued to live in Wiesbaden until her death on November 16, 1967, when she was 91 years old. That she survived almost three years at Thereisenstadt when she was almost seventy years old and then another twenty-two years in Wiesbaden after losing her children is amazing to me.

But Martha was wrong about one thing when she answered the questionnaire in February, 1948. She did have relatives who survived the war. Our cousin Angelika Oppenheimer, Martha’s great-niece and the granddaughter of Martha’s brother Moritz James Oppenheimer, remembers visiting her in Wiesbaden with her family when she was a child. And Wolfgang’s father and uncle were also still alive and living not far from Wiesbaden. Perhaps in some way Martha found the strength to survive from those family members who remained.

 


  1. From the Yad Vashem website at https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11497651&ind=1 
  2. Paul Floersheimer death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 926; Signatur: 333, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  3. See Note 1, above. 
  4. https://yvng.yadvashem.org/nameDetails.html?language=en&itemId=11497658&ind=1 

The Story of Julius Seligmann, Scorned for Not Being Jewish and for Being Jewish

In my recent post about Adolf Michel, I included the letter his son Fred had written to the International Tracing Service after the war in which he expressed obvious anger with his uncle Julius Seligmann for his failure to help learn what had happened to their mutual relatives. This post will shed light on Julius and his relationships with his siblings.

When my cousin Wolfgang first contacted me back in February 2015, he shared with me what he knew of the story of his grandfather Julius Seligmann. Julius was the second child of August Seligmann and Rosa Bergmann and was born February 5, 1877, in Gau-Algesheim. He was the nephew of my great-great-grandfather Bernard Seligmann and first cousin of my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen.

Julius and his younger brother Moritz were for many years in business together in Gau-Algesheim as merchants, but from family lore, Wolfgang learned that after his grandfather married Magdalena Kleissinger on December 1, 1922, and converted to Catholicism, there was a falling out between Julius and his family. Julius was already 45 when he married Magdalena and fifty years old when his younger son Herbert was born in 1927.

Then, according to the book by Ludwig Hellriegel about the Jews of Gau-Algesheim, Julius was forced to close his store in Gau-Algesheim in December 1935 and moved with his wife and sons to Bingen in September, 1939.1 I had speculated back in November 2014 that these actions were somehow connected to Nazi persecution, but Wolfgang did not think so. Although he did not know the details of what happened to Julius and his family or why he ended up leaving Gau-Algesheim in 1939, Wolfgang had heard from his family that Julius had suffered financial hardship after being forced to pay his brother Moritz some kind of financial settlement that led to the move to Bingen, where the family lived with Magdalena’s relatives for some time.

Recently, Wolfgang decided to try and learn more about his grandfather’s life, and he searched the Landesarchiv Speyer, the archives for the Rhine-Palatinate region in Germany.  First, he searched online and found that there were court records available regarding a criminal prosecution of his grandfather Julius in 1937. The records themselves were not accessible online, so Wolfgang visited the archives in person and reviewed the many pages of court records there. He was not allowed to copy or photograph the records themselves, but took copious notes and reported back to me what he had learned. Thus, all the information that follows came from Wolfgang’s research of those court records.2

The records provided information not only about the criminal trial in 1937, but also background information about Julius and his life. The records reported that Julius was a good student and was in school through the sixth year at the Bingen schools. From 1897 to 1898, Julius served in the First Hessian Guard Regiment in Darmstadt.

After their father August died in 1909, Julius and his brother Moritz took over the family house as well as their father’s business. But Julius returned to military service on Germany’s behalf during World War I from 1914 through 1918. He was a sergeant in the infantry, battled malaria while in service, and received the Frontkämpferkreuz for his service on the front lines during the war. After the ceasefire, he helped bring the German battalions back to safety.

Honor Cross of World War I or Frontkampferkreuz
PicturePrince [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

After the war Julius returned to Gau-Algesheim and continued to work with his brother Moritz in what had been their father’s store. As noted above, he married Magdalena in 1922 and converted to Catholicism. Then Julius had an unfortunate injury in 1927 when he fell off his bicycle and suffered a concussion. The court records report that he suffered seizures for many years as a result of this accident.

The records indicate that there were many disputes between Julius and Moritz during this time, perhaps relating to Julius’ marriage and conversion or perhaps for unrelated family or business reasons. In May 1929, Julius bought out his brother Moritz of his share of the family home and business for 14,000 Reichmarks. There is a note in the records from a notary from Ingelheim saying this price was too high, that is, that Julius paid more than a fair price. Moritz then left Gau-Algesheim and moved to Koenigstein, and Julius ran the business on his own. But having overpaid for his brother’s half of the business, Julius soon ran into financial difficulties.

Location in Gau-Algesheim of Julius Seligmann’s store

Things then got worse after Hitler came to power. The mayor watched to see who went into Julius’ store as he was apparently considered non-Aryan despite his conversion to Catholicism. Under the Nuremberg laws, he was still considered Jewish for he had four Jewish grandparents. As a result of his financial difficulties, Julius was forced to borrow money from a man named Hammen so that he could pay off his debts. As part of the process of obtaining that loan, Julius had to provide a statement of his assets.

Apparently, there was some error in that statement of assets, and that led to Julius being prosecuted for “negligent perjury.” Hammen himself testified that Julius was always a reliable businessperson and thus did not think he had intended to misstate his assets. There were also other witnesses who testified to Julius’ good character. Nevertheless, Julius was convicted and sentenced to prison from September 16, 1937 until April 16, 1938. A request for clemency was rejected. One has to wonder whether an “Aryan” business owner would have been treated as harshly as one who was born Jewish.

After being released from prison, Julius was forced to sell the family home because of financial difficulties. That led to further legal problems. Julius sold the house in April 1938 to Philip Wendelin Rohleder, a toolmaker. Rohleder had visited Julius in prison accompanied by Magdalena to convince him to sell the house. Julius agreed, but later claimed that Rohleder never paid the agreed-to price and that he was a Nazi and had told Julius he didn’t need to pay him at all. Rohleder denied this and said that he had to pay off some of Julius’ creditors and that’s why Julius had not received the whole purchase price. This dispute was not resolved until 1959 when Rohleder finally agreed to pay Julius 5000 Deutschmarks as a settlement.

Julius and Magdalena Seligmann

Putting all this together, the story of Julius Seligmann now is more complete. Disputes between Julius and Moritz may have been the first step towards Julius’ financial problems. Overpaying his brother Moritz for the house and business in Gau-Algesheim left Julius financially vulnerable in 1929. Then the Nazis came to power, and despite his conversion to Catholicism, Julius was treated as a Jewish business owner and thus suffered as a result of the Nuremberg laws. Forced to borrow money, he became entangled in what to my mind appear to be trumped up charges as a way of getting him out of business completely. That then led to the sale of his house for less than its worth and thus his family’s need to leave Gau-Algesheim and seek help from his wife’s family in Bingen.

It is a sad story in so many ways. By marrying a Catholic woman, Julius lost the support of his family and the Jewish community of Gau-Algesheim. Then, despite being a hero for the German army in World War I, he was essentially treated as unworthy by the government in the Nazi era. He lost his family of origin, the family business and home, and his home community. At age 62 he was forced to move with his wife and two teenaged sons to Bingen and live with his in-laws.

But Julius was a survivor. He lived to 90 years old and was killed in a car accident coming home from church on March 28, 1967, three days before the first birthday of his grandson Wolfgang, who has now preserved the story of his grandfather Julius.

Julius Seligmann death notice

 

 


  1. Ludwig Hellriegel, Die Geschichte der Gau-Algesheimer Juden (1986, revised 2008)[The History of the Jews of Gau-Algesheim]. 
  2. References to the records can be found at http://www.archivdatenbank.lha-rlp.de/ under Landesarchiv Speyer, Justizvollzuganstalt Mainz, Bestand J 85, Findbuch, Akten, 03 Gefangene, Strafprozess 6142, Julius Seligmann, 367/37; Bestand J 83, Findbuch, Akten, 02 Gefangene, Gefangenepersonalakten, Sachakten 3142, Seligmann, Julius; Bestand J 10, Findbuch, Akten, 12 Prozessurteil und -akten, Zivilprozess 298 Seligmann, Julius. 

Holocaust Education in Germany

In June 2018, my cousin Wolfgang Seligmann sent me a paper written by a German high school student named Johanna Petry. Johanna’s paper1 was done as part of a school project about the Holocaust. I am really impressed by Johanna’s work, and she has graciously allowed me to share it on my blog.

Johanna researched the family of my cousin Anna Seligmann, who once lived in Johanna’s hometown of Neuenkirchen. Anna Seligmann was the daughter of August Seligmann and Rosa Bergmann and a sister of Wolfgang’s grandfather, Julius. She was also the first cousin of my great-grandmother Eva Seligman Cohen.

Johanna researched and wrote about Anna, her husband Hugo Goldmann, and their children, Grete, Heinz, and Ruth Goldmann, and what happened to them during the Holocaust. As I have written before, Hugo and Anna and their three adult children were all killed in the Holocaust, but until I read Johanna’s report, I did not know the details.

Johanna obtained documents from the International Tracing Service at Arolsen and also searched Yad Vashem, the archives in Neunkirchen, and other sources she found on the internet. In the course of doing her research about the Goldmann family, Johanna discovered my blog and then found Wolfgang as a result of finding my blog. Wolfgang provided her with more information about the Goldmanns and the extended Seligmann family.  Using what she learned in all this research, Johanna wrote a detailed and well-researched report on the fate of Hugo and Anna and their children.

The report is written in German, and with Johanna Petry’s very gracious permission, I am providing a link to it here so that those who are interested in the full report can read it. Unpublished paper by Johanna Petry, “Juden in Neunkirchen,” May 9, 2018, for the Gymnasium am Krebsberg, Neunkirchen.

For others, I will translate and summarize Ms. Petry’s overall findings, which are near the end of her report:

Anna Seligmann was born on November 30, 1889 in Gau-Algesheim near Bingen, where her father August ran a successful wine trade. She had three siblings and married Hugo Goldmann, who was born on March 24, 1885, in Gundersheim. Professionally, Hugo worked as managing director and moved to Neunkirchen in 1906.

From 1912 Hugo and Anna lived in Neunkirchen where they had three children. First, Grete Rosa Goldmann was born on July 8, 1913. Then, Heinz Leo Goldmann was born on March 28, 1916, and the youngest daughter Ruth Goldmann was born on July 23, 1924.

In 1935 the Goldmann family moved to nearby Saarbrücken. Grete moved in 1936 to Giessen [140 miles from Saarbrucken] where she worked as a milliner. In 1937 she was forced to move into the “Jew’s House” in Bergstrasse 8 in Hannover [340 miles from Saarbrucken, 188 miles from Giessen].

Johanna was interested in the term “Jew’s House” and did some further research. She wrote:

I had never encountered the term “Jewish house” before, but I suspected that it was a place of residence for Jews. My internet research revealed that “Jewish houses” were actually the homes of Jews who were forced to live there. The houses were often Jewish owned and many Jews had to live in very small spaces. In addition, they should prevent the maintenance of social contacts with non-Jews and contributed to the ghettoization. In Hanover on 3 and 4 September 1941, 1,200 Jews had to move into 15 Jewish houses, which were completely overcrowded. The Judenhaus in Bergstraße 8 was the Alte Synagoge.

Hugo Goldmann was imprisoned from November to December 1938 in the Dachau concentration camp and after his release did forced labor for a family. When parts of the Saarland and the Rhine-Palatinate were evacuated in 1939-1940, Hugo, Anna and their youngest daughter Ruth moved together to Halle [345 miles from Saarbrucken]. Ruth worked there as an intern in a retirement home of the Jewish community.

On May 30, 1942, Hugo, Anna, and their daughter Ruth were deported to Lublin in Poland, where they died immediately after their arrival at the Sobibor death camp on June 3, 1942.

Their son Heinz Leo worked in Berlin and was taken to the Auschwitz extermination and concentration camp on January 29, 1943. He died there three weeks later on February 19, 1943.

Anna and Hugo’s daughter Grete was deported from Hannover in 1941 to the Riga ghetto. She was transferred to the Riga-Kaiserwald concentration camp when it opened in 1943.  When this camp was evacuated by the Nazis as the Allied forces approached, Grete and the others being kept at Riga-Kaiserwald were taken to the Stutthof concentration camp, where Grete died on December 27, 1944.

Here is a map showing the places where the Goldmann family lived and then were forced to live and die:

 

Reading Johanna’s report not only provided me with more specific details about the Goldmann family; it also gave me insight into the mind and feelings of a young woman in Germany today as she learned what happened to a family that once lived in her town. Johanna’s personal reflection on her findings is both sad and uplifting:2

The sober, objective style of writing does not fit in with this terrible fate of this family – a destiny shared by millions of Jews at that time, and yet every life story is special to itself.

During the evaluation of the documents and the search my thoughts wandered again and again. I wondered how Anna, Hugo, Ruth, Grete and Heinz Leo went, what they thought and what they were most afraid of. I would like to know more personal details from their lives, because I find these much more exciting than dates and dates. Unfortunately, such information is extremely rare. All the more I was pleased that we were able to locate a descendant of the Seligmann family and, thanks to him, learned still more details.

And yet the fates of the victims of the National Socialist regime repeatedly make me deeply affected and thoughtful, especially since there are currently again racist and anti-Semitic tendencies in Germany. That’s why I find it all the more important to do commemoration work and to deal with this dark part of German history.

I find it very heartening that German schools are providing their students not only with an education about the Holocaust but with the research skills necessary to learn more about those who were killed during the Holocaust. Given the anti-Semitism and hatred of others that continues to exist in all parts of the world, including the United States and Germany, it is critical that all children and adults learn these same lessons that Johanna Petry learned. We all must remember the past and do all we can to prevent it from ever happening again.

 

 

 


  1. Unpublished paper by Johanna Petry, “Juden in Neunkirchen,” May 9, 2018, for the Gymnasium am Krebsberg, Neunkirchen. 
  2. Unpublished paper by Johanna Petry, “Juden in Neunkirchen,” May 9, 2018, for the Gymnasium am Krebsberg, Neunkirchen.